As you can imagine, being an Oktoberfest tour guide in Munich and attending various other German festivals here and there, I am all-the-time answering question after question on how to dress for Oktoberfest.
- What do you wear?
- Where did you get it?
- What are the Oktoberfest outfits called again?
- Do you have to wear that?
Answering all of these I almost always end up giving away too much information on my cup size. This Oktoberfest packing guide will be no different.
How to dress for Oktoberfest
I’m usually not one for giving fashion advice–as you can tell from my posts on what to pack for London and Paris, what to pack for Belize, and like, every single photo of me on this blog. Plus the fact that I think I’m wearing men’s socks right now but not entirely sure. But if there’s one thing I know (there is actually only one thing I know) it’s how to dress for Oktoberfest.
Turns out I love being asked how to dress for Oktoberfest time and time again because, besides the fact that a dirndl is my favorite thing to wear, I finally feel like one of the cool kids and not the dweeb who accidentally wore the same shirt for yearbook photos three years in a row. (True story. Moving on.)
However, to be perfectly clear here, I don’t know shit about lederhosen. This post is just for you, beautiful dress-wearer–even though I may have misled you having mentioned my boobs in the first paragraph.
Do you have to wear a dirndl to Oktoberfest?
Let’s go ahead and start this post on how to dress for Oktoberfest off with one of the most frequently asked Oktoberfest questions: Do you have to wear a dirndl to Oktoberfest?
Officially? No. Wear whatever you want. Jeans and a t-shirt are fine. Unofficially? Yes, dammit. Don’t you dare wear jeans and a t-shirt!
I can usually recall only a handful of people not dressed up among the thousands of people at Oktoberfest each year and you know what? It’s almost offensive. Like, how dare you show up here with your pants and your lack of cleavage. How. Dare. You.
I can’t imagine it’s any fun being that one dinkus who shows up to your boss’s house thinking it’s a costume party when it’s 100% not–and the same goes for the reverse. Don’t be the opposite of a fool in a chicken suit at a formal office party. You’ll look best in an Oktoberfest dress!
What to wear for Oktoberfest
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the traditional Bavarian dress worn at Oktoberfest by women and a select few dudes (you’ll see) is known as a dirndl. At its most basic it consists of a dress, an apron, and a white shirt–the term “shirt” being used very, very loosely despite the garment’s sheer death grip. It’s a tight boob cover with sleeves.
How to dress for Oktoberfest: What is a dirndl?
Like any anatomy lesson worth its weight in formaldehyde, we’re gonna dissect this specimen from head to toe. Even though my toes got cut off in the picture. Here are the pieces that make up a dirndl:
…whose primary function, I can only assume, is simply to cover up your bra. In some cases, however, it may be used as a backup source of support to the goods inside trying their damnedest to liberate themselves. PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS–itty bitty living space!
Most often you’ll see blouses in white though they come in just about any color/pattern/material a pretzel-loving girl could ask for.
I personally own six white and one black one to go with my little black dirndl. I have them in cotton, I have them in polyester, and I have them in lace. Your options are endless!
Dirndl blouse examples
The dress part of a dirndl is available in a few basic silhouettes (a fashion word I learned as a result of getting married), varying lengths and materials, infinite designs and colors. It’s also great at hiding all evidence of excess beer consumption. Dirndls look good on every. body. Yes, even yours.
…because sometimes the fashion gods throw us a bone. Forget how to dress for Oktoberfest, we need more practical household items to become fashion statements in general, methinks.
Dirndl aprons almost always come with a dirndl purchase but can often be purchased separately for mixing and matching purposes. More on that in a bit.
What shoes to wear with a dirndl?
The most important thing to know when deciding what shoes to wear with your dirndl is Comfort!
Oktoberfest involves a lot of walking, dancing, and standing for long, long hours. The beer helps numb some of this but, for the rest, make sure to have a comfortable pair of shoes on.
I have a few go-to pairs of shoes I wear to Oktoberfest. These are–you guessed it–comfortable flats or boots I don’t mind getting beer spilled on. Do I look hot wearing them? Almost completely no. But you have to choose your Oktoberfest battles–and when you’ve got your boobs pushed up to your brows, no one is looking at your shoes. Just saying.
When choosing how to dress for Oktoberfest, for comfortable flats I almost always recommend something black and that’s as close to house slippers as you can get. I like Skechers because they’ve really embraced the memory foam footbed much the way Chrissy Teigen has embraced internet trolls. There’s no going back now! It’s just part of your legacy.
Here are my 2021 recommendations for Oktoberfest shoes (flats):
- Bobs Plush: memory foam cushioning in a ballet-style flat. Buy here on Amazon or Zappos
- Skechers Active Breathe Easy: also memory foam with cute Mary Jane style. Buy here on Amazon.
- Skechers Kiss: more memory foam (a must-have!) with a small wedge heel. Buy here on Amazon.
However, simple boots and booties have been my Oktoberfest shoe choice for the past couple of years. I’m typically at Oktoberfest for two whole weeks and, though I may be fully fashion inept, I do know not to wear the same thing every single day. Especially when those things fill up with sweat and beer each and every day.
Here are my Oktoberfest 2021 shoe recommendations for boots to wear with your dirndl:
- Black, pointed toe ankle booties: The pair I wear is similar to this pair. I love how affordable and simple they are–just slip them and get your drink on. Buy them here on Lulu’s
- Bobs Tumble Weed: Because even cute booties come in memory foam! Buy them here on Amazon.
- Skechers Rumblers: What may be my new favorite Oktoberfest shoe–these memory foam ankle boots have already been pretreated with 3M Scotchguard to make them water and stain resistant! Buy them here on Amazon or check out similar styles on Zappos.
And for all other Oktoberfest shoe options, I honestly can’t recommend enough (and I’m gonna try) a pair of memory foam insoles. If the shoes you wear to Oktoberfest aren’t already memory foam lined, these will made a huge, enormous, gigantic difference in your enjoyment of Oktoberfest. *steps down from soap box*
What socks to wear with a dirndl?
Some years it’s cold at Oktoberfest and I wear knee socks. Some years it’s hot and I wear ankle socks. But I am always going to wear socks. Even if they’re the thin little things you’re supposed to wear with ballet flats, I’m wearing ’em.
For colder Oktoberfest years, cute cable knit knee socks are an acceptable sock choice for when deciding how to dress for Oktoberfest. Black, white, gray, or ivory ones will do just fine! And for warmer temps, I go with either black no-show “socks” or some kind of decent-looking boot socks.
For example, here are some 2021 Oktoberfest sock recommendations:
- 3-pack of cable knit knee socks in black, gray, and ivory
- 6-pack of cable knit knee socks in assorted colors if you want to venture beyond black and white
- 5 pairs of casual wool crew length socks that would go perfectly with some ankle boots
- Ultra low-cut liner socks for wearing with ballet flats and similar styles, available in black, gray, beige, and many combinations of each.
What to wear under a dirndl?
In a continuing effort to NOT star in America’s next viral video, anytime the combination of a dress and dancing on benches is concerned, I wear a little more than underwear underneath. Call me a prude or an old hag, just don’t call me “Drunk Chick at Oktoberfest Falls Off Bench and Shows Crowd Her Hoo-ha.”
- These black boyshorts are what I’ve typically worn.
- These Under Armor mid-length shorts are what I wear when it’s a little colder out. I actually prefer these as they don’t ride up your ass the way boyshorts do.
Jewelry to wear with a dirndl
When it comes to the jewelry aspect of how to dress for Oktoberfest, Keep. It. Simple. This is not a Mr. T look-alike contest. You are (probably) not an eccentric 75-year-old woman with a fur collection and a bank account that won’t quit. But with all that open chest space (insert correct fashion term here), your neck doesneed a little sumpin’.
I like to represent for the gluten gluttons of the world with a small pretzel necklace and very little else.
Here are my on-theme 2021 Oktoberfest jewelry recommendations:
- 2-pack silver + gold pretzel necklaces – friends that Oktoberfest together, stay best friends forever
- Simple sterling silver pretzel necklace – Less is more! And I won’t always say that when pointing to your Oktoberfest cleavage.
- Gold pretzel earrings – I own these and LOVE them!
- Black velvet edelweiss choker – You just can’t go wrong with a classic black velvet edelweiss choker!
- Natural gemstone bracelets with pretzel and edelweiss charms – These are too perfect!
There are so many freaking adorable Oktoberfest hairstyles out there–braids and buns and pigtails and fishtails–but my dexterity is comparable to a penguin wearing oven mitts so I just let it hang.
Will someone please come to my house and braid my hair? Every time I attempt an Oktoberfest hairstyle I look less like an adorable Bavarian and more like Alexa from 50 First Dates. Guess what? That’s not the look I’m going for.
Luckily, we live in a time when braided headbands are a thing. Don’t be like me; don’t let it just hang. And speaking of not letting things hang…
Best bra to wear with a dirndl
Maybe you need a lil’ help in this category, maybe you don’t. Maybe you have all those glorious back problems I’ve always dreamed of, or maybe you look like a boy in a bandeau. If you’re in Group A (also known as Group DD), continue on to the next section.
If you’re here with me in the group that had to have TWO sets of padded cups sewn into her strapless wedding gown, listen up.
Before my first Oktoberfest I walked into Victoria’s Secret and asked the salesperson, “Aiight. How much cleavage can you get me?” To which she replied, “OOOH, honey.” And thus a beautiful, everlasting, semi-pornographic relationship with the Bombshell was born. Hello there D squad; mama’s home.
Victoria’s Secret’s Bombshell push-up bra promises to add 2 cup sizes – and they ain’t lying. These bras are incredibly soft, comfortable, and deliver the goods as promised. They come in a variety of colors (just get the one those most closely resembles your skin color) and strap-types (literally can’t think of any other way to word strap-types).
- Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Bombshell Push-Up Bra – This is the one I have.
And a boob-word to the boob-wise: Don’t get the strapless version. Stay with regular straps. Because I didn’t know how to dress for Oktoberfest at the time, and because my first dirndl blouse was off-the-shoulder I went with the strapless Bombshell. It didn’t hold up very well (both on my boobs and in quality) and the overall shape was different and not as, shall we say, uplifting?
Still need a boost?
A LOT of my readers also purchase this Magic Bra Shaper to complete the look–the “look” being “Check out how I can rest my chin on my boobs everyone!”
It was a few years before I tried one but, seeing how many people purchase them every year, I decided to give one a try. I purchased this Boolavard Magic Bra Shaper and this Joyshaper Posture Corrector (ok, you ain’t fooling no one with that description) to compare and contrast. I have a very weird job. Verdict to come! TL;DR: They work! Get one!
How to dress for Oktoberfest in cold weather
Some years at Oktoberfest the weather is sunny and beautiful and the outdoor beer gardens are overflowing (that is why they moved Oktoberfest up to September once upon a time, by the way). But some years it’s rainy and cold or downright arctic.
Inside the beer tents is almost always incredibly warm, but you’ll still have to walk there. And back. Then outside to get a Nutella crepe. And anywhere else that is not inside a beer tent.
The following are some optional cold-weather additions to consider when deciding how to dress for Oktoberfest.
Consider a petticoat
I hate being cold, especially when I have to wear a dress. On some occasions I’ve worn knee socks, but last year I tried something new: I wore a petticoat. My petticoat (some people may call this a crinoline underskirt) kept my butt and legs warm, was extremely comfortable, and was super fun to wear because you can twirl all day like the early 19th-century saloon wench you always wanted to be.
Some examples of petticoats you can wear under your dirndl are:
Leggings are fine too
Under my dirndl dress I choose to wear shorts instead of leggings because I don’t want to be obsessively pulling down on the legs all day–I have issues. But leggings are perfectly acceptable addition to how to dress for Oktoberfest for the years it gets super cold.
Because dirndl skirts come in all lengths, you can wear full-length leggings for full-length skirts, biker shorts like mine for shorter ones, and everything in between. Check out these examples:
- These Under Armor mid-length shorts– Again, these are the ones I wear and I absolutely love them. I actually wear them every time I wear a dress. (Most recently when I asked a restaurant waiter where the restroom was, pointed in the direction he showed me, and my hand got stuck in my dress pocket and he and everyone else saw my Under Armors.)
- These high capri leggings would be perfect for longer dirndl skirt lengths. They have over 5,000 excellent reviews.
Bring a sweater
Regardless of how cold it may be outside at Oktoberfest, inside the beer tents you’re going to warm up–fast. So, should you bring a jacket at all? Oh hell yes. I stay at a hotel just outside the entrance to Oktoberfest and that walk in freezing temperatures, short as it is, is still murder.
Just remember to think in thin layers you don’t mind getting beer spilled on, sauerkraut dropped on, or your chicken hands wiped on. It’s hard being classy sometimes.
There is a traditional Oktoberfest sweater style (because of course there is) but many of them are quite pricey. Don’t get me wrong, they are cuu-uute, but dressing for Oktoberfest shouldn’t totally break your bank.
I want something I don’t mind getting dirty, something I won’t be heartbroken to stain, and something I can just shove in my purse when I’m not wearing it. (Yeahhh maybe I’m not the right person to be giving fashion advice?)
Here are my Oktoberfest 2021 sweater recommendations:
How to wear a dirndl
Keep in mind this is coming from the girl who, nine times out of ten, can’t tell whether she’s trying on a skirt or a shirt. I once wore FIVE shirts and a winter coat all the way from Amsterdam to America because I couldn’t close my suitcase.
So, yes, there are a handful of unspoken rules to the dirndl-wearing aspect of how to dress for Oktoberfest and two handfuls if you’re doing it right. Here they are, in no particular order.
Do not wear a Halloween costume to Oktoberfest
Nope, just kidding. This is definitely Rule #1.
For the love of all that is good and pure, do not wear a halloween costume to Oktoberfest. Dirndls are sexy enough as-is; there’s no need to invite slutty beer wench to the party. Oktoberfest is a merry celebration where friendly, kind-hearted people from all over the world come together to celebrate their love of beer and Bavarian culture in a warm and welcoming environment. But we will judge the crap out of you.
It’s quite easy to tell the difference between a “real” dirndl and something that came out of a plastic bag, where the blouse and the dress are actually one piece. Trust me, you’ll see.
However, you don’t have to spend loads of money on a good dirndl–you can find great ones that are still affordable and don’t mock German culture. If it says “beer wench” or “beer garden babe” or “lederhosen honey” or my favorite: “German servant” on the package, stay very far away. We’re talking time zones here.
How long should your dirndl be?
On a similar note–actually, most of these tips steer you in the direction of being not skanky–your dirndl should fall somewhere between your knees and your ankles*. Nobody wants to see your schnitzel.
*Unless you’re incredibly short like me and look vaguely like an Amish woman on her way to milk a cow in long dresses.
Do you need the dirndl blouse?
Please. Wear. The blouse. Unless, and this is a very tight exception, you’re wearing a high-neckline style dirndl–in which case I’ve witnessed many a-German lady wearing these without a blouse. I tried it once; it felt weird.
Also, a dirndl dress should never go under your ta-tas. Let the Bombshell do all the pushing-up. That’s what it was genetically bred in a secret laboratory on Venus to do.
How you tie your dirndl apron matters
You can’t just put that bow any ol’ place, sister. Where on your body you tie your bow implies your relationship status and level of willingness to allow some guy to buy you an oversized gingerbread cookie that says “eat me.”
- Tying the bow on your right means you’re taken. “Thanks for the cookie. My husband loves gingerbread.”
- Tying the bow on your left means you’re single. “Come to mama!”
- Tying the bow front and center means you’re a virgin. “GIMME THAT DAMN COOKIE!”
- Tying the bow in the back means you’re a waitress. “I only accept cash, sonny.”
Is this rule aggressively enforced? Obviously not–you can tie your bow anywhere you damn well please. But by now it’s become such a *thing* that you’re likely to get comments on your bow placement.
So why does tying the dirndl bow on your right mean you’re taken? Unlike here in the U.S., married people in Germany wear their wedding rings on their right hand. If you don’t know, now you know!
See? I’ve tied my bow on my right–that means I’m taken. I’m also shooting bullseyes so that means I’m also a force to be reckoned with so you better just hand over the cookie so nobody gets hurt.
I made a video to illustrate this very point! Did you catch it at the beginning of this post?
Where to buy dirndls for Oktoberfest
Before I answer this there’s a question you need to ask yourself: when will you be buying your dirndl? Before you leave for Germany… or after you’ve arrived in Munich? There are pros and cons to each just as there are pros and cons to accepting sugary treats from strangers.
Buying a dirndl before your trip
Pros of purchasing a dirndl ahead of time
You can find much better deals on dirndls you purchase beforehand on the internet than you’ll find in Munich during Oktoberfest. This should surprise no one familiar with the concept of supply + demand.
Time for alterations
You’ll have plenty of time for any needed alterations. A few years ago I purchased a dirndl online and had to get the skirt taken up a few inches (because Amish) and the bust taken in a, ahem, few feet. Small boobs, big dreams–I always say.
Dirndls look great on every body, yes, but you’ll only be comfortable in one if it fits properly. And unless you’re one of those weird alien creatures who’s able to purchase clothing without trying it on first, you may need to have some adjustments made.
I also had to sew on a pocket once because dirndls often come with just. one. pocket. One! How infuriating is that? So yes, I sewed. I watched a YouTube tutorial, cut up an old pillowcase, and now I have a pocket. I’m basically the MacGyver of fashion.
You have an entire internet’s worth of designs and colors and sizes and budgets to choose from. You’re not tied to one store’s small selection when you have the world wide web at your fingertips.
You don’t have to waste precious drinking time in a store sweating in borrowed wool. You can just arrive in Munich totally prepared and get yourself to the beer tents.
Cons of purchasing a dirndl ahead of time
Depending on where you purchase it, there’s a chance the quality could be… ehh… less than magnificent. Especially when you buy a one-piece dirndl set that comes in a bag. When purchasing dirndls online, there’s no way to know how the piece actually feels. Is it soft? Thick or thin? Or just overall paper-bag-ish?
There’s a good chance you’ll be one of many at Oktoberfest wearing that exact same getup. And what I’ve noticed personally: the cheaper the dirndl, the more you’ll see it at Oktoberfest.
But neither of those really matter anyway because beer festival.
Where to buy dirndls online
Buy dirndls on Amazon
Because if you can buy pre-filled communion cups and a cookbook of placenta recipes on Amazon, you sure as shit can buy your dirndl there too. When weighing how to dress for Oktoberfest, stay away from anything that looks like Miley Cyrus would wear it to an award show and you’ll be fine.
Here are my dirndl recommendations for Oktoberfest 2021 on Amazon:
- 2-piece Floral pattern | Natural colors, floral design, and I love the lace apron (lace is so in right now at Oktoberfest). The customer images look very, very cute! *blouses sold separately for all these–refer to the blouse section towards the top of this post!
- Elegant 2-piece gold and silver design | This one is so pretty! Another lace apron and I love the shiny materials.
- 2-piece light blue and silver design | I love the neckline on this one and the colors are so pretty. Plus, a lace apron. I guess I do have a type.
- 2-piece feminine look with a sweetheart neckline | Yeah, I think the description covers it.
Check out Alpenclassics
The only problem with Alpenclassics is that you’ll want every last one of ’em. You can filter by length, purchase the blouse separately, and even hit up the sale rack–says the girl who’s currently wearing a shirt that cost $1.99.
Here are some of my dirndl recommendations for Oktoberfest 2021 on Alpenclassics:
- 2-piece Stone Pink Midi Dirndl | I absolutely love the colors and the fabric pattern. And it goes perfectly with a lace blouse.
- 2-piece maroon + pink hearts | This is such a cute feminine design. I love the uniqueness of it.
- 2-piece sky blue + white | Such a pretty design and sunny look!
I purchased one of my dirndls from Alpenclassics and the process was simple and straightforward, even though I live in the U.S. and the dress came from the UK. I received my dirndl in about two weeks.
Rare Dirndl: Where to buy dirndls in the U.S.
If you’re in the Chicago area (or anywhere in close proximity to a mailbox), Rare Dirndl has fabulous dirndls made right here in the USA. (She’s also currently making beautiful face masks!) They offer free shipping, free returns, and–bomb diggity–custom made dirndls. Erika, the owner, personally designs all of these and they are truly unique.
Erika releases a couple of new dirndl collections each year as well as having some great sales like the One-of-a-Kind dirndl sale where you get to have a dirndl made that’s all yours. MWahaha!
Some of my favorite 2021 dirndls from Rare Dirndl are:
- “Die Heimat” Dirndl | My absolute favorite dirndl from Rare Dirndl. The colors, patterns, fabrics, and details are just PERFECT.
- Globetrotter Dirndl | For obvious reasons, duh. I love the maps pattern and the material used for the apron. I can’t help it–I’m a sucker for these colors!
- The Nightlife Dirndl | I can’t help it–I’m a sucker for these colors!
- The Belize Dirndl | Because the color combination is beautiful and because it was inspired by my trips to Belize in one of Erika’s past dirndl collections called Girls Who Travel. It’s the Oktoberfest equivalent of having your name in lights and I’m 100% okay with that.
Some other online retailers I have no experience with:
- The official Oktoberfest website sells some but they don’t have pictures of these dirndls on human bodies and that’s a huge pet peeve of mine. I may have an overactive imagination (or so I’ve been told by literally everyone in my life) but not so when it comes to fashion.
- Krüger Dirndl, at the recommendation of a colleague but wow these are pretty!
Buying your dirndl in Munich
Pros of buying a dirndl in Munich
Makes a great souvenir
You bought your dirndl in Munich! That makes it, unlike some of the cleavage you’ll see these two weeks, the real deal and the best Oktoberfest souvenir money can buy.
Try it before you buy it
I have friends who buy clothes all the time without trying them on. And to them I say, “This is not right.” In the case of that time I purchased my dirndl online, I already knew my sizes/measurements. I also knew I’d need alterations so I bought it well in advance.
Figuring out how to dress for Oktoberfest is hard, especially if this is your first experience purchasing a dirndl. You may need in-person help from a saleswoman who speaks little English and knows nothing of modesty.
Cons of buying a dirndl in Munich
In Munich, during Oktoberfest, you can expect to pay a lot more for your dirndl than you would online.
Availability is limited. Possibly in your size, the colors you like, your desired price range, and especially dolla billz in your wallet. You’ll be at the mercy of whichever styles a particular retailer keeps stocked.
Waste travel time
You have to take precious time out of your packed vacation/drinking schedule for shopping. I can’t think of anything worse. Except maybe…
Can’t be altered
There won’t be any time for alterations. Maybe I could’ve stuffed my bra a little more but had I not been able to add a second pocket to my dirndl I would have LOST. MY. MIND. I may need to seek counseling–I’m aware of this.
Tips for buying a dirndl in Munich
- Sometimes the criss-crossy string (is there a fashion term for that?) is not actually on the dirndl when you buy it. It’s included in the price, just don’t forget to grab one out of the basket if it’s not already on the dress.
- If you attend Oktoberfest towards the end of the festival, you can get some wunderbar deals on dirndls around the Theresienwiese. Red stickers for days.
- Make sure you take your Bombshell with you to try on dirndls. What fits an A-cup at the store won’t fit a D-cup later; it’s simple arithmetit.
Where to buy dirndls in Munich
Trachten Rausch is my new favorite Munich dirndl shop. It’s located just a short walk from the Theresienwiese and their in-store selection is great. It’s a small, local store with great customer service.
Important note for us modest Americans: they have a communal dressing room (I assume in an effort prevent theft during busy Oktoberfest times). There wasn’t anyone in there when I tried on my latest purchase though–just giving you a heads up.
Trachten Rausch address: Ruppertstrasse 32, Munich
Also in the general vicinity of the Theresienwiese is Angermaier Trachten, a huge dirndl shop with an enormous collection. It’s a great place for choosing how to dress for Oktoberfest as they have dirndls for all budget, sizes, color preferences, styles, everything. They, too, have great customer service! This is definitely a place I want to go back to.
Angermaier address: Landsberger Strasse 101-103, Munich
H&M (in Germany)
In a beautiful twist of grocery shopping fate, I was strolling through the brand new shopping mall that’s just across the street from Oktoberfest, headed to get some groceries, not even thinking about how to dress for Oktoberfest, when I saw H&M in Germany now sells dirndls!
Since it was the second week of the festival, all of their dirndls were marked down to 10 euros sooooooo……… oooo…… I bought one of each. I regret nothing!
Yes, the H&M dirndls are cheap but they’re of surprisingly good quality! Trust me, I was completely shocked. The styles are super cute, they’re very comfortable, and they do their damn job. You can’t ask much more from a dirndl that cost less than a liter of beer.
H&M address: inside the Forum Schwanthalerhöhe
Located just off the Marienplatz on Neuhauserstrasse where all the shops are. If there’s a group of dudes banging on buckets nearby, you’re in the right place. This is where I bought my first dirndl way back in 2012 when I had no idea how to dress for Oktoberfest.
A saleswoman approached me, speaking no English whatsoever, so I pointed to one of the dirndls in the window I liked. She looked me up and down, boobs to ankles, then came back with all the pieces in the exact right sizes that fit me perfectly. I was in and out in a matter of minutes. Side note: This was in May, not September.
I love the selection here but some sizes may only have two or three options and not every design is available in every size. Just like, when are we gonna get teacup elephants?
Think of the Galeria Kaufhof as the German Macy’s that’s also near the Marienplatz. Up the escalators to the 2nd floor (I believe, please correct me if I’m wrong) is the women’s dirndl department. Excuse me, the person’s dirndl department, as we’ve so learned.
Could buying a dirndl be any simpler? Not to mention your bath towels and spatulas and men’s wallets aren’t that far away either!
Anywhere. But also, everywhere.
If there’s one thing Munich, Germany does superbly after beer and brats for breakfast, it’s dirndl pop-up shops. Small (but often pricey) dirndl shops are more prevalent throughout the city during Oktoberfest than college undergrads who have “totally lost their friends omigod!”
There are a few near the Marienplatz, some in the Hauptbahnhof train station, but the most I saw were on the walk from the Theresienwiese to Hauptbahnhof. This short walk will yield more cleavage-producing dresses than a stroll down the Vegas strip. Quality be damned, but you will find yourself a dirndl.
What not to wear to Oktoberfest
Knowing how not to dress for Oktoberfest is almost as important as how to dress for Oktoberfest – because wearing the wrong thing can potentially get you kicked out. For instance:
Do not wear a costume to Oktoberfest
I’ve already covered how you should never wear a cheesy, mocking Halloween “Octobeerfest” costume to Oktoberfest, with a k. But what I mean here is any other kind of costume.
You may be able to make it into the Theresienwiese wearing a Carry Me to Oktoberfest costume (see below) or even dressed as Jesus (both things I’ve seen recently), but you will not be allowed into any of the beer tents.
And should you be able to sneak in anyway, those scary, Terminator-looking security guards won’t be happy as they throw your ass out into the street, Uncle Phil/Jazzy Jeff-style.
Also, while this you won’t get kicked out of Oktoberfest, it’s best to steer clear of any and all lederhosen t-shirts and dirndl t-shirts. Unless your goal is to look like a completely clueless tourist, I mean. Which it very well may be and in that case, you do you! You will not be the only one I can assure you.
Do not bring a big bag to Oktoberfest
Backpacks, big purses, and other large bags are prohibited from entering Oktoberfest. Have I been turned away at the gate because my purse was too big? Absolutely. Is it because I have no idea how big “three liters” is? Pretty much.
No purse over “3 liters” is allowed into Oktoberfest so just keep your purse as small as possible. Bring just the really important things: wallet, phone, hotel room key, chapstick, backup chapstick, etc. There are enough tubas there already—you can leave yours behind.
Purchase something like this Anti-Theft Small Cross-Body Bag (many color options) that works perfectly plus has the added benefit of being a great, theft-proof purse for all your other travels.
I’ve also started wearing this fanny pack because sometimes I’m just over straps. It pretty much hides itself under my dirndl apron, however, the real question is whether or not people will actually think I work there. Although, being handed wads of cash from strangers? Not the worst thing that could happen at Oktoberfest.
There is baggage storage at Oktoberfest in case you make it all the way there and get turned away because your bag is too bag. For more in Oktoberfest luggage storage, check out my post on Frequently Asked Oktoberfest Questions.
How to dress for Oktoberfest: What to buy there
There are many ways to accessorize your dirndl when deciding what to pack for Oktoberfest but some things are just better when purchased there. Let your drunk-ass conscience be your guide.
German is fun, no? I don’t actually know what glupperl stands for, but wiesn glupperls are the clothespins you see people (myself included) wearing that say various things.
You can buy these pre-made with different words/phrases on them or you can get them personally made. They sell them at stands in the beer tents, they sell them via people walking around in the beer tents, and they sell them at souvenir stands out on the Wiesn.
I got mine made at a stand just inside the gates to Oktoberfest (on the left) and I chose an edelweiss + my name because I’m a dainty little girl. The words are actually burned into the clothespin and the whole process takes 10 seconds and they cost around 4 euros.
A popular piece of headwear (I’m assuming for the hairstyle-handicapped like myself) is a flower crown, ribbons galore. You can find them all over Oktoberfest along with…
Fancy Bavarian hat
These bedazzled and be-feathered Bavarian/Alpine-style hats are a popular Oktoberfest souvenir and they come in all sizes and all the colors, with almost endless feather/decoration options. You’ll want one–trust me.
The lebkuchenherz (gingerbread heart cookies) are totally optional but be advised you can eat it in a moment of dire starvation. But will there be a moment of dire starvation after your second or third liter of lager? Yes, yes, a million times, YES! *Actually, these taste terrible. I repeat, do not eat.
More questions on how to dress for Oktoberfest
As always, if there’s a How to Dress for Oktoberfest question you have that I didn’t cover in this post, please feel free to reach out! The fastest way to get to me is through the comment section of this post! Plus, you just might help out someone else who has the same question.
Do I have to get a different dirndl for every day I go to Oktoberfest?
I get asked this question so many times and the answer is no. Just because I have a different dirndl for all 16 days of the festival, doesn’t mean you have to too. It just means that I have a serious problem and I should probably seek counseling.
Feel free to wear your dirndl multiple days in a row–no one will care. However, you probably don’t want to be wearing the same thing in all your Oktoberfest photos–I get that. Luckily, there’s a solution.
The good thing about how to dress for Oktoberfest is that the dirndl pieces are all separate and therefore you’re able to mix and match. I have multiple dirndls, yes, but I also mix and match my blouses, aprons, dresses, ribbons, etc. all the time.
One option would be to purchase a dirndl, then purchase a different colored apron and snag a different colored ribbon to create a whole new look. (Go to the craft store and just buy a bunch of different ribbon colors.) Look, I’m not good at fashion but I am great at being a tightwad.
What to wear to Oktoberfest if you’re not dressing up
As I said earlier, you don’t have to dress up for Oktoberfest. The facts that maybe you’re not comfortable doing so, money issues, etc. are not lost on me. But it’s my belief that fully joining in the festivities is the most fun way to celebrate Oktoberfest.
If your concern is standing out, you will not be the only person in a dirndl at Oktoberfest. As you’ll see in Munich, the vast majority of Oktoberfest attendees does wear traditional dress. It’s a great way to really become part of the celebration! And no, you will not look like a silly tourist if you wear a dirndl.
That being said, if you do not plan on dressing up for Oktoberfest, feel free to wear whatever you’d wear on a normal day. Jeans, tops, whatever you want–you won’t be publicly ostracized and probably no one will even notice. They’ll be too busy having the best time of their lives!
How to dress for Oktoberfest if you hate wearing dresses
Similar to the above, if you are not a dress-wearer in your normal life, chances are you won’t fancy wearing a dirndl to Oktoberfest–and that’s ok!
If you still want to participate in the theme, many choose to simply wear jeans and a checkered or plaid shirt. Here are some Oktoberfest-style checkered shirts on the feminine side:
- blue/white ruffly checkered shirt
- Off-the-shoulder checkered shirt – available in blue/white and red/white
- Checkered, collared button-up – available in pink, blue, and red
Another alternative to wearing dirndls but still participating is adding to your Oktoberfest outfit lederhosen for women. Ladyhosen, as I like to call them.
Though wearing lederhosen as a female is not uber traditional, it’s still perfectly acceptable (as long as your ass cheeks aren’t hanging out ya shorts). It is Oktoberfest 2021 after all–it ain’t 1810 anymore!
Where to buy female lederhosen
All of the retail shops in Munich I mentioned above also sell ladyhosen in addition to dirndls. It’s become such a style statement that everyone’s stocking them. You can even buy lederhosen-style jeans and denim shorts. Both the leather and denim options can be paired with the tops I just mentioned above.
However, you can expect to pay some pretty shiny prices for those leather shorts. (If you thought buying dirndls was pricey, try shopping around for lederhosen!)
Just like with dirndls, you can purchase ladyhosen online ahead of time. All of the online retailers I mentioned before (with the exception of Rare Dirndl) also sell lederhosen for women. Take a look at all those… and when you decide that’s way too much to pay for a pair of shorts, check out these options on Amazon:
- Dark brown suede female lederhosen
- Red leather ladyhosen – Reviewers love this set and I love this color.
- Medium-length ladyhosen shorts – available in light brown or black, a little big longer than regular shorts
Is it OK to wear my dirndl around Munich?
A million times yes! No matter where you go in and around Munich during the two weeks of Oktoberfest you’ll drown in a sea of dirndls (but what a way to go)!
The Oktoberfest celebration isn’t 100% reserved for inside the Wiesn–you’ll see ladies in dirndls all over Munich at all times of the day. They’ll be shopping for groceries, visiting museums, riding the trains, out at bars and restaurants, and even wearing dirndls while shopping for more dirndls (guiltyyy!).
What else to pack for Germany
Oktoberfest is great and all (okay, it’s the greatest), but I hope you stick around and spend some more time in Germany! Regardless of how long you stay, here are some things to add to your Oktoberfest packing list:
- European plug adapter | So many times these are forgotten until you arrive! And what a pain in the ass that is. (Also, you’ll want to go ahead and get a bunch for all your plug-inables.)
- Sunglasses | Those years when the weather is beautiful, the outdoor beer gardens at Oktoberfest are great places to hang out. But… they’re uncovered. Don’t forget your shades! These are the best low-cost sunglasses I’ve ever bought!
- Ibuprofen | It’s a beer festival; of course you’re going to need your preferred headache recovery method.
- Germany guidebook | For all the sightseeing and eating and drinking you’ll be doing outside the Wiesn. Especially the Germany Culture Smart Guide that focuses on Germany’s customs and culture!
- Pocket-sized German language book | Because it’s fun to at least try to immerse yourself.
- And, whatever you do, do not forget to consider travel insurance. Need I remind you again that Oktoberfest is a beer festival? The world’s largest beer festival? Have fun!!
More info for what to wear to Oktoberfest
What Oktoberfest outfit questions do you have for me?
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